The front man for the alternative metal band System of the Down, Serj Tankian is best known for his musical talents in the United States as a singer, songwriter, keyboardist, and guitarist. He is widely acclaimed for his vocal talents and is nationally ranked as one of the few for “having the best voice in metal,” ranked at #26 by Hit Parader out of 100. Tankian, is also well known for his political activism, focusing on the human rights and fighting for the global recognition of the Armenian Genocide that occurred in 1915. This is reflected in his musical career, especially during his tenure with System of the Down; such songs include Prison Song,Holy Mountains, and Empty Walls. Respectively each song highlights either over population of the American Prison system, genocide, and of course the United States’ unpopular “War on Terror.” Serj Tankian has created a nonprofit organization with co-founder Tom Morello known as Axis of Justice that works to bring fans of music and musicians together to challenge issues facing the world today.
Dr. Mary Temple Grandin (Temple Grandin) August 29, 1947-Present
Dr. Grandin is a well-respected and celebrated expert on animals and on developing care and emotional treatment for autistic children. Suffering from this disability herself, she was able with the help of her mother and a few close academic supporters to complete her education and become a world renowned researcher for the better care of animals. However her greatest contribution to humanity was her invention of the “Hug Box,” which has been an essential tool in aiding children with autism. Dr. Grandin has also spent much of her time in aiding parents with autistic children. She has written a number of books on the subject, such titles include, The Autistic Brain and Emergence: Labeled Autistic.
Mary Harris Jones (Mother Jones) August 1, 1837-November 30, 1930
Mary Harris Jones, or Mother Jones as the miners she lead called her, was one of the bravest organizers for the rights of laborers during the first two decades of the 20th century. Her own life being one of hardship and strife, Mrs. Jones migrated to Canada during the Irish Famine with her family. As a young woman she lost both her husband and children to Yellow Fever and suffered the loss of her home during the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. It was then that she took to marching for better labor conditions, starting with forming a political group against child labor, known as the Children's Crusade. Soon she lead more and more marchers, causing such a havoc in the day to day lives of those in the higher crust that a US District Attorney once called her “the most dangerous woman in America.” Mrs. Jones demonstrated her ability to lead and motivate people.
Best known for his work to end the apartheid state of affairs of his home country of South Africa, Nelson Mandela is a political icon of the last century that captivated the world. While a strong believer in the practices of Mahatma Gandhi, he shifted to a more direct form of struggle once he found that the pacifistic nature of his political hero did not produce results in a timely manner. For his political resistance and upsets he spent a total of twenty-seven years in prison, with many other minor arrest preceding this lengthy sentence. However his sixty-seven year- long political career and many brushes with the law proved fruitful for in 1994 the apartheid system of his country was removed and South Africa held the first multiracial elections in the country's history. Due to his hard work and popularity Mandela was also South Africa’s first elected president alongside being the first black president of the country.
Malala Yousafzai July 12, 1997 - Present
Brought to prominence by her work in advocating the rights for women and girls in her native country of Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai has started her work as early as 2008. The main target of her fight was the religiously motivated group known as the Taliban and their dated view of the world. Her work as an activist for women's rights and her constant mention of the Taliban brought her to the attention of the world. This popularity brought the wrath of the ad for mentioned group. The majority of her activism took place online where she spoke about her experiences and her desired outcome for girls and women in an anonymous blog, until 2009 when she was discovered and asked to give speeches. In recognition of her service for the rights of women and girls she was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 2014, she is currently the youngest person to ever hold the award.
Walter F. White July 1, 1883 - March 21, 1955
A leader of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Walter Francis White is best known for his nearly 25 years of service to the organization and working with President Truman at the end of the World War II to desegregate the armed forces, along with more civilian based segregation. He started his career with the NAACP as an investigator in 1918 at the invitation of the then leader James W. Johnson. In the capacity of an investigator, White went to the Southern states to report on lynchings and other atrocities that occurred to people of color. As a person of mixed heritage, White was able to achieve his objectives with little harassment to his own being. In 1929, White took over as head of the NAACP after Johnson. As head of the organization he worked closely with varying levels of the United States government in order to make change. White also built up the NAACP’s ability to fight cases through funding and member recruiting, which allowed him to aid in the case of Brown v. Board of Education (1954) taking place during his last full year of service to the NAACP.
A legal clerk that was instrumental in building the 1993 Pacific Gas Electric Company litigation. Brockovich being an environmentalist is what led her to build a case against the Pacific Gas Electric Company, which before 1993 had been allowed to improperly dispose of waste and other practicals that proved less than beneficial to the environment of California. Her work on this case gave her national fame and led to the creation of “Challenge America with Erin Brockovich” on the ABC network. She, also was awarded two honorary doctorates from Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles and Lewis and Clark Law School, Oregon. The former granted her a doctorate in Humane Letters and the later in Law. She is currently the president of Brockovich Research and Counseling.
Marian Wright Edelman June 6, 1939 to Present
Marian Wright Edelman is the founder and current president emerita of the Child Defense Fund (CDF). All her life she worked for the advancement of lower class people by improving the chance of their children. It goes without saying that most of her earlier work was based on children of color. Her earlier legal career started with the NAACP in 1968 and from there she pushed for the betterment of children and made history by being the first black woman to be admitted into the Mississippi Bar after receiving her degree from Yale Law School. Edelman has been recognized by many government bodies for her work and has been awarded for her efforts. In 2000, she was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She continues to improve the lives of children in the United States.
Charles Perkins June 16, 1936 to October 18, 2000
An aboriginal from Australia, Perkins lived through a time where people of the aboriginal lineage could not move around the country freely. This blatant discrimination left Perkins with a bitter resolve and used his fame as a football player (soccer) to achieve civil rights for aboriginals and was a leading member of what was called the “Freedom Ride” that lead to amendments to the Australian constitution and placed aboriginals on the census as well. Perkins continues to be well renowned for his work even years after his death.